It’s finally here, the conclusion of the Hunger Games Trilogy which has been pointlessly stretched out to 4 films in order to squeeze out every last little penny from the fan base before the franchise dies out. I hope your week last week was good because my week was really long and rushed, because I had to catch up with all three of the previous movies, because up to that point, I had only seen the first film, which I found to be a bit too mediocre, so as a result, I didn’t bother with the rest of the films. Also I was kind of annoyed with The Hunger Games because it had meant that every studio now was going out to find their next teen and young adult novel in order to turn them into franchises to compete with the Hunger Games, most noticeably with the recent franchises The Maze Runner and Divergent Series, both of which also have received annual releases and both films didn’t inspire me with confidence so I have not seen past the first films with either one of them, especially with the bafflingly bad ending with Maze Runner.
My opinion on the Hunger Games films is as follows: the first one was rather mediocre and really didn’t get into it and I wasn’t too impressed by the ending and I know it has been said a hundred times, it is so obvious how very similar it is to Battle Royale. The second film, I was fully admitting to being a good film and was a vast improvement, up until the last portion of the film when it decided to hit the reset/repeat button and simply have the film be a complete clone of the first one! Mockingjay Part 1 felt like a bit of a slug fest with not a lot happening in it, but I didn’t fell like much could have been cut from the movie and I felt it left a decent cliff hanger to lead people to go on to Part 2. By the way, I am assuming that anyone reading this has seen all the previous Hunger Games movies and is well aware of all the plot elements so I am not going to avoid spoilers for all the previous films but I won’t be spoiling this specific film’s plot.
Mockinjay Part 2 takes place directly following part one, which is not surprising considering it’s meant to be one book! Peeta (played by Josh Hutcherson) is still being brainwashed by President Snow (played by Donald Sutherland) in order to kill Katniss Everdeen (played by Jennifer Lawrence) and the force of the rebellion, led by President Alma Coin (played by Julianne Moore) are preparing their forces for a final assault on the capital. Meanwhile Katniss is organising her own unit on a special mission to infiltrate the capital on foot in order to take out Snow herself and with all this coming together, will Katniss be able overthrow the Government with the minimal amount of bloodshed of her friends and family. If you have seen the first 3 films you are probably really excited about this film and I think fans of the franchise won’t be disappointed. If like me, you were rather indifferent to the Hunger Games, however, by the ending you will be thinking ‘thanks goodness these movies are over’ because Mockingjay Part 2 suffers from one of the similar problems I had with the second film ‘Catching Fire’.
I kind of enjoyed this film for the first part because, unlike the other films, this one had a nice brisk pace that constantly escalated and the actions felt like they had consequences, also it felt like half of what had been built up from the previous film was starting to pay off, mainly because Mockingjay Part 1 was completely set up, there was very little action and this one made up for it tenfold. Very similar to how ‘Catching Fire’ managed to create the darker tone that I was hoping the first film would give, however, much like Catching Fire, it doesn’t entirely pay off. While the film does keep up the dark tone thanks to the Director Francis Lawrence, not much of this film is fully realised. This is down to the fact that this film hits the brakes towards the end of the film, I’m guessing towards the last 20 minutes because I’m having trouble timing these things because Odeon are now insisting your phone is switched off and will no longer tolerate you having them on silent. However, this film feels really long and this is felt specifically at the ending of the film. The brakes are hit so the film can reveal a plot twist at the end, which on some levels severely contradicts what we have been told to believe up to this point in the series, and not necessarily in a good way and as a result, the ending feels very unsatisfying especially due to a character death that was incredibly out of nowhere and incredibly infuriating for several reasons. The journey to get there was pretty good for the most part but is bafflingly long and complicated and an ending that contradicted so much of what we had been taught to believe has just completely turned me off the film entirely, I was so annoyed that this is how the franchise is ending. I believe fans will be fully satisfied by this film, but I’m not! This really didn’t work for me as a whole. That being said, however, I can’t totally disregard this film completely. This franchise has wisely cast aside it’s early themes and commentary of society’s obsession with reality television and society’s stereotyping of youth culture and largely focuses on fascism and warfare and who is benefiting from it. Though this isn’t quit explored as much as I liked however I feel this tone while not exactly original is at least admirable considering it’s aimed at a younger audience. I enjoyed the characters and the action. This one definitely got down the majority of its characters better, even if a couple of them fall into the trap from these not really existing to be characters but more as plot devices which was painfully obvious when characters bring out various lines and say they are going to do things in this film, you know, ‘oh man, you are so dead’, trust me you are going to see half these characters deaths coming a mile away and it’s where the genius of the Hunger Games really comes in, It’s marketing! These films are based on young adult novels that are mostly aimed at anyone from the age of 13 – 20 and that’s pretty good, because everyone else will more likely will have seen these cliches and plot elements used elsewhere and used a lot better, especially if you have seen a lot of Anime. These films feel very much like they were inspired by Anime, I don’t know if it’s just me, but I have seen plenty that I could refer back to and it’s not a comparison that I have seen mentioned, seriously, write in the comments is you have an opinion on this, I genuinely would like to know, is it just me?
Katniss is still a decent protagonist and I did enjoy a lot of Peeta’s story arc in this film, but it also felt like a lot of the roles that were expanded very well in Catching Fire and Mockingjay Part 1 that I wanted to be expanded, have been decreased in this film, especially the character of Haymitch, who is my favourite of the series, who almost feels like a misnomer in this film and I am also a bit annoyed that Ceaser has been rather under used in this film especially as he is played by Stanley Tucci and was one of the most entertain parts of the earlier films and Beetee is rather under used as well, pretty much only turning up at the beginning and the end of the film. I appreciate the fact that they are trying to increase Gale’s relevance in these films with Mockingjay, but I am seriously not a fan of this. Not offence to Liam Hemsworth, who is doing his best to work with this, but this character is bland and is poorly written, he is the worst part of the Hunger Games Trilogy because he just exists to add an unnecessary love triangle with Katniss and Peeta, to which there is no question as to where Katniss is going to end up with in these films. It’s been painfully obvious since the first one, he barely had any screen time in Hunger Games or Catching Fire and by the time they actually start giving him something to do in Mockingjay, it’s too little, too late. In fact he exits the film with no ceremony whatsoever, he was useless in the plot of the previous films, he’s pretty much useless here and he exits just as bad. Goodbye, good riddance, didn’t care for you in the other three, not caring now that you’re gone. Seriously you could cut Gale out of the entire franchise and I don’t even think you’d have to change much. The villains definitely feel like their presence is there more, they don’t quite reach the levels of Catching Fire or the first part of Mockingjay, but it felt like they started to get the upper hand and feel like a genuine threat though I fear Donald Sutherland’s President Snow feels rather under utilised and again the inclusion with his character feels rather unsatisfying and especially with Julianne Moore’s character President Coin who also doesn’t get a satisfying pay off. Also with what these films were building up to it really doesn’t feel like the conclusion was what we were expecting the other films to build up to, now granted that is probably a good thing on a lot of levels because it will give the fans a bit of a double take, but I’m not entirely happy with it, I know these film’s scripts are limited in their options by their source material which I won’t claim to have read.
There is, however, another real issue I have with the film, while it’s not really that satisfying, it does at least do a lot rather decently and I would say I enjoyed the world building and the world design, but with that being said, this film finally brings the fight to the capital and we barely see any of it. The fact that the fight was bought to the capital was built up big time in the trailers and it feels like it is barely there, which is a shame because the other films actually manage to make the world and the various sectors and its capital feel like a character in itself, this has kind of been thrown to one side for this film, its just really wasn’t my thing, I really tried to like The Hunger Games, I genuinely did, I was dismissive when I first realised I had to go back over the franchise again, especially considering I didn’t really enjoy the first film all that much, and I did try my best and I will admit that on a re run I do find these films to be ok, but this was not the conclusion I was hoping for. I would say by the end of Mockingjay Part 1 that I didn’t think that anything could have been cut from the film, but I can definitely think of a few things that could have been cut from this one. Probably enough to make Mockingjay one film. What could have been cut especially with a large amount of the characters having the same innane conversations over and over again and the really overly long and complicated planning scenes that could have easily been chopped down to a couple of quick lines of dialogue. It’s overly long, over complicated and half of it is unnecessary, I swear there were about 4 or 5 moments that you easily could have done the closing credits on.
Acting talent wise, there is a ton of great stuff in it. Granted this film was meant to act as the final performance of Phillip Seymour Hoffman, but the late actor only filmed a couple of lines for the film and it’s very clear there were meant to be some parts for him towards the end of it. There are some reactionary shots, but the final lines that I suspect his character probably delivered in the book, are conveyed in a letter to Katniss and I think the film had to get around a lot of this because of his death, with a lot of re-writes. Jennifer Lawrence definitely works well as Katniss Everdeen and she is going up in my estimation as an actress, especially after her amazing performance in American Hustle and I suspect she will be going to the Oscars again next year with Joy and if we needed the Hunger Games Films to get her more exposed, I am glad they exist on that basis. Joss Hutcherson, while he may not have been great in the first film, has definitely grown into his role and is getting better by the day and plays an excellent brainwashed victim and mentally wounded soldier. Liam Hemsworth, I know you are trying mate, but really the script fails you on so many levels and there is only so much an actor can do when he is given poor writing and poor direction. Woody Harrelson, don’t ever change man, you are great in these films and it’s no different here, even if you are completely under used. Julianne Moore, who was introduced in the last Mockingjay film, is barely used in this film, the time she is on screen she is really good, it does feel really like a missed opportunity for a now Oscar winning actress. Most of the supporting cast are pretty good, I especially liked all the cast members that played Katniss’s friends and squad and I think Willow Shields is getting into her role as Primrose. Stanley Tucci and Jeffrey Wright also don’t get much to do but again are decent when they are on screen. Donald Sutherland continues to make a really good villain, even though I don’t think he is as good as he has been in the previous films. I was especially impressed by Elden Henson’s performance as Pollux, especially considering he doesn’t have a single line of dialogue, playing an actor who has had his tongue cut out and has to communicate by sign language. Overall, a decent cast, but I feel a lot of the very talented cast are rather under utilised.
Presentation wise. I will give a lot of credit to these films. Considering these four films that have to be shot very quickly in order to get them out annually, these films have turned out very well and can match up with some of the big blockbusters and the action scenes are very good, especially some of the fight scenes with the muts in the sewer and some of the battle scenes in the capital, plus they make some of these feel really dark, both in tone and lighting, some of these scenes are shot in almost complete pitch black, which really doesn’t help the film on a couple of levels, mainly because it makes some of the brilliant choreography hard to see. I saw the 3D version, and take my advise, there really isn’t any need to see it in 3D. Granted I haven’t seen the other films in their 3D version so I can’t compare this to them, however, the film just looks flat and the post conversion doesn’t feel well integrated although at times there are some moments when the film shines. It also doesn’t help that half of this film was shot in dark environments which means the 3D effect is even much less noticeable and the darkening effect of the glasses makes the scene even harder to see. Only see the 3D version if it’s the only version showing in your area, otherwise stick to 2D. The action scenes of the first films were few and far between, this film has a lot more and are well orchestrated and well acted. The cinematography also really pays off, I love the designs of this world and the various vehicles and the sectors. I definitely enjoyed the world of Pan M, but there’s a few things about it that don’t quite make sense, but they are just nit picks. This film also really doesn’t have much of the shaky cam that really made watching the first film almost unbearable during fast paced moments which is a definite plus in my book.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 should really only be approached by fans, and even then I think they might be un-satisfied by the conclusion like I was. This film builds up very well but it doesn’t fully realise where it means to be and it just wasn’t that great. I’m not a big fan of The Hunger Games Franchise but I don’t hate it at the same time, these films are all just ok at the end of the day and I am kind of glad I am done with them. If you enjoyed the previous films you probably will enjoy this one, but I am not making any guarantees on that. The action is good and I will say the build up to most of the acting is well done, but other than that I can’t give much praise to this one, especially the pointless nature of the 3D which feels like just another way to squeeze more money out of its fans. Overall, not really my thing, you could probably wait for this one to come out on DVD although I suspect you will be waiting a while, as this one will probably do very well at the Box Office.
So what are your thoughts on The Hunger Games? Does your opinion match mine or do you have a completely different view? Did I get it completely wrong and didn’t understand it and should I have read the books? Please leave your comments, I would love to hear your opinion.
My question for this week is:
“Is the Book always better than the film?”
I don’t just mean in this instance, is the book always better? I’ve always heard the phrase thrown around, but I have never been one to completely subscribe to it, I definitely would be interested in some opinions on that one.
Time to move on. Hunger Games are over and we are now moving into December, so let’s get a family film in that hopefully I can recommend or tell you to avoid over the Christmas period. Next week on 4 December I am going to be reviewing Disney Pixar’s ‘The Good Dinosaur’.
Thanks for reading my review, I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it.
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